4 things to know BEFORE you go see an investment property
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
Well, of course! To get a rough idea on if a property will be a good deal, you don't need to do a big analysis or have a realtor pull comps. Just head over to Zillow and zoom in on the neighborhood.
Filter for sold homes only. Make sure you limit it to the last year, and be sure to filter out homes with the same bedroom count and a similar square footage.
My square footage range is usually a window of 500 sqft (250 sqft over/under my target property). So if the home I'm considering is 1250 sqft, I'll filter for houses between 1000-1500 sqft.
Keep in mind, your biggest focus should be: what are fully renovated homes in this neighborhood going for? A good deal should be at least 65% below that.
For example, if fully renovated homes are going for $500,000. You want to purchase for no more than $325,000 MAX. I'm typically even more conservative than that, I feel really comfortable at 55-60% of after repair value.
You should also filter for rentals at this time, to see what your potential cash flow could be on this property. Even if I'm flipping a house, I want to know what the rents are in the neighborhood so I can have a plan B. I like the Zillow Mortgage app a lot for a quick analysis here.
You should plug in your after repair value here, assuming you will refinance into a traditional mortgage after construction is complete. Set your down payment at 20-30%, interest rate, property taxes and homeowners insurance. I've found the monthly payment at the top is a pretty accurate estimate. Now you can compare this to potential rents and see if there is enough cash flow after these monthly expenses.
This quick analysis can be done in about 10-minutes to consider if the property is priced low enough to warrant an in-person visit. You'll do a more complete analysis of the numbers later, before making an offer.
2. Flood zone
I've been inside homes moments after the flood water recedes or years after a home was abandoned due to a devastating flood. Personally, I will never, ever buy an investment property in a flood zone. Running a quick search on FEMA's website is one of the first things I do before bothering to step foot inside a potential investment.
Simply head here and plug in the property's address.
I like to size up the property lot, literally, before even setting eyes on it. How is my lot size compared to the neighbors? Is it a double lot? Is it on a steep hill? Are there retaining walls? (An expensive fix).
Zillow is also effective here for comparing lot sizes, you can filter for that. I also like to use Google Maps street view and satellite view to look for eyesores like water towers, railroad tracks, transmission towers and the like.
How about the home's footprint? Is it taking up most of the lot? Or is there room to expand on either side? Local laws will govern how close you can get to your property line when building an addition.
Before I go to look at a house, I want to be aware of what I must be added to get the maximum value out of a property. This way, when I'm walking the house I can see if it's feasible.
After looking at rough comps on Zillow, lets say I now know that 4-bedroom homes fetch considerably more. But my subject property has 3-bedrooms. With this in mind, I will walk the house looking for where to fit that 4th bedroom in.
The same can be said for bathrooms. Usually it's easier and worth it to add a powder room to the first floor, where there was none before.
You'll also want to look at garage space and enclosed porches. Sometimes, but NOT always, it makes sense to convert a garage into livable space. In the right neighborhood, it can also make sense to open an enclosed porch to add curb appeal.